Beyond the standard repertoire—sit, fetch, shake, stay, roll over—it’s normal to assume Rover is kind of limited to being little more than an adorable, furry, fluffy, and very cuddly best friend. Well, such an assumption is woefully incorrect. In fact, dogs are capable of doing a lot of amazing things. Dogs’ ancestors spent their lives hunting, searching, socializing, protecting and solving problems. So, skills like these are still ingrained in your pet’s traits.
Often, you can see its manifestation in the characteristics of your dog such as a fondness for fetch, love for the water, unwavering loyalty, barking at squirrels and even incessant digging. Therefore, it’s simple to say that choosing a sport for your pooch isn’t as cut-and-dry as playing fetch with Fido. Evaluating your dog’s natural capabilities and instincts can help you indicate the best activity suited for them.
Although it’s known that certain breeds are better fitted for specific activities, you’ll be happy to know that new and exciting dog sports are springing up year after year. All of these sports offer a unique opportunity to harness your dog’s natural abilities, strengthen your bond, effectively communicate with your pooch as well as to have fun with your dog.
However, before you register your dog for all of these dog sports and recreation, make sure to have him examined thoroughly by his veterinarian first. On the contrary, once your vet gives his clearance to your dog, you can now consider these popular fun sports you and your furry friend will love.
One of the fun activities for dogs where any breed can take part in is agility training. It consists of leading your Border collie through a series of obstacle courses in a race against the clock. This sport requires proper training, concentration, and conditioning of the skill, speed as well as precision. To complete and win the course, the team must have the fewest mistakes and the fastest time. Thus, effective communication and teamwork between you, as the handler, and your dog is the cornerstone of this sport.
It’s also a great way to bond with your pet and give you a bit of work out–as agility keeps Rover’s mind and body in top form while also helping you keep in shape since running alongside with him and guiding him through the right obstacles is part of the challenge.
Typical obstacles that you’ll encounter in this sport include jumps, tunnel, weave poles, pause table, tire jump, dog walk, and teeterboard. Since there are organized clubs formed especially for competitive agility training, you can enjoy setting up this sport in your own backyard and alter it to suit any age, size, and athletic ability of a dog.
Another growing dog sport is dock jumping, also called dock diving, which is basically a doggy long jump. It is part of a canine aquatic competition–where the handler throws a toy off of the dock in an attempt to get his dog to jump with a great distance or height. Distance is measured at the point where the base of the tail meets the water. The dog who jumps the farthest wins. Doggy dock jumping can be a great summer sport for high-energy dogs that have a passion for water, be able to swim, and have a strong drive to follow-fetch-and-retrieve a toy.
Opposite to dock jumping as a distance competition, is Flying Disc, but this time, it’s done on land. Flying disc is also one of the world’s most favorite dog sports–in which you’ve probably played with your pooch while catching Frisbee in the park. To give you a crash course, “Frisbee” is a popular trademarked brand name for flying disc, but oftentimes, ‘disc’ is commonly used. To become successful in this game, the handler must be able to throw a disc properly, controlling the direction and distance.
The field will be divided into zones by yard. Therefore, scoring will be based on the “toss-and-fetch”– in terms of accuracy, distance, time, and zoning where the disc was caught–as well as freestyle routines category. If your pooch loves to play ‘throw-catch-retrieve,’ do freestyle tricks or good at jumping and catching stuff in the mid-air, then this might be the right sport for your pup.
Musical Canine Freestyle
If your dog is into grooving, you might want to try musical canine freestyle. Often thought of as ‘dancing with your dog’, this activity is basically a fun teamwork between a dog and their handler dancing a choreographed musical performance. As stated in its name, in musical canine freestyle, the dog and handler can do any freestyle move. Typically, routines may involve twists and turns, walking backwards, jumping, weaving through the owner’s legs or moving in sync with the handler, and even make a dog walk in circles.
This type of sport can be a good way to strengthen your bond with your pooch as they master the basic cues, especially the heel command. Plus, as you come up with a blasting performance for folks to see, musical canine freestyle can also initiate your creativity, patience, and positive attitude. The scoring isn’t based on punctuality or speed unlike the previous dog sports, but what’s important here is the way you and your dog work together.
Canine pets of all breeds and sizes can compete and participate in this event but it requires perfect training and obedience skills together with good choreography and body coordination.
A more energetic and louder canine sports competition, flyball is an ideal sport for dogs that love to catch balls and run at full speed off the lead. But only this time, the activity is done in teams of dogs compared to the dog and handler team mentioned above. Flyball is typically a type of obstacle race that involves two teams of four dogs. One dog will race and jump down a line of hurdles, towards the “flyball box.”
Then, the dog will activate a catapult machine that spurts out a tennis ball, catches the ball that flies out, and brings the ball back over the hurdles to its owner so the next dog can do the same routine. The first group to have all four dogs complete the course wins. Flyball can be a good skill for your pup to master, not to mention the interesting techniques they can learn from you. On top of that, it’s also a great way for Fido to enjoy time with his fellow dogs and a nice way for you as well to meet other dog owners.
A cross between obedience training and an obstacle course, Rally Obedience is gaining traction for improving general training and teamwork in a less strict and formal setting than traditional obedience competitions. In this sport, a dog will move through an obedience course with between 10 and 20 stations. A dog heels with his handler through a course made up of signs describing particular obedience exercises to perform.
A group of judges will observe the dog and handler team as they swiftly navigate the course with precision. The handler can’t touch his dog, but unlimited communication with positive reinforcement from the owner is allowed. By some means, it’s almost identical to canine agility sports but with lighter physical tasks and more about accurate obedience demands and understanding. Any breed is permitted to take part in rally obedience.
One final fun sport where you can promote your sight hound’s chasing instinct–but safely and humanely–is Lure Coursing. Traditionally, this sport uses a live animal such as a hare or bounding jackrabbit for dogs to chase. However, in recent times, lure coursing developed a faster pace of chase sport through an artificial–usually a white, plastic bag– attached to a mechanical lure over a distance of up to 1,000 yards across a flat, open field, while dogs compete for the best time.
Dogs usually run in one or two groups, most often broken down by breed. Lure coursing requires speed, enthusiasm, agility, and focus on the lure. The dog with the fastest time racing for the lure through obstacle courses wins. Before, the sport was limited to sighthounds such as Whippets, Greyhounds as well as Rhodesian ridgebacks, but since it’s becoming popular, all breeds are now encouraged to compete in this sport.
Still Can’t Find The Right Dog Sport?
As you can see, there are lots of fantastic sports you and your dog may love. If you still haven’t figured out which canine sport best suits your dog, don’t fret for there are many more activities for you to choose from. The best way to solve this is through research.
Consider the following questions: What skills your dog has? What motivates him? What activity fits you and your dog’s strengths and weaknesses? Use this information and accumulate them in your dog’s profile to make it easier for you to know the appropriate sport that fits your pooch. Moreover, remember to give more training mixed with plenty of patients and positive reinforcement–and make sure to have fun!
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